The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other environmental agencies levy a number of environmental regulations that apply to all businesses, regardless of size. You need to be aware of the law if your business practices involve the release pollutants into the air, water, land or sewers, or if it involves transmitting, storing or the disposal of hazardous waste.
The Business and Environment Connection
It’s critical that you fully understand how your business impacts the environment and that you’re complying with environmental laws. Failure to comply can lead to court appearances, penalties and lawsuits. Even employees can end up being prosecuted for offenses that are committed by the company.
Claiming ignorance of the law won’t protect you, your company or your employees. You should fully understand federal and state environmental laws.
Managing Hazardous Waste
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act permits are sanctioned by states, counties and EPA Regional Offices to ensure the safe storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous materials. Here’s the link to Arizona’s website.
Some of the most common hazardous wastes include medical waste, like blood and syringes and other waste such as paint, solvents and oil. In addition, the EPA provides a comprehensive list of hazardous waste along with the proper way to dispose of it.
The regulations that apply to your business will depend on the amount of waste you produce each month. Typically the laws require that businesses take care of any hazardous waste that they generate and that they store the applicable waste in safeguarded drum containers.
You can’t accumulate over more than 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste on your property at any time. Additionally, you must hire a licensed waste hauler to transfer the hazardous waste to a facility that’s permitted to receive and dispose of the waste.
Air Pollution Management
The Clean Air Act was designed to reduce air pollution. Any business that emits impurities into the air, including dust, smoke, odors, gases, volatile organic compounds as well as solid particles is subject to the law.
Generally, you’ll need permits that require you to disclose the type and quantity of pollutants you’re releasing as well as the steps being taken to minimize the pollutants. You’ll also need to be able to provide information on how you measure, track and document the pollutants your business emits.
In some cases, a permit may not be required. Especially, if the quantity and form of pollutant emissions fall under a minimum threshold.
Wetland habitats include bogs, marshes and swamps and are commonly located in flood plains and alongside waterways. If your business is located near or in a wetland area, you may be required to obtain permits from local, state and federal government agencies, especially if the business discharges any form of pollutant near a wetland area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service provides an interactive map that details the location of wetlands across the United States.
While environmental regulations and concerns might not have a direct impact on your business, they may effect on your clients and vendors. It’s important for you to consider how these regulations may affect not only your bottom line, but your supply chain as well.
Make sure you have contingency plans in place so that your business doesn’t come to a halt. Even the smallest of businesses need to comply with environmental regulations. What you don’t know will hurt you. There are no exceptions.